“Master Mentors” art show Jan. 11 through Mar. 5

FALLBROOK – The Friends of the Fallbrook Library have announced it will sponsor a very special art show that will open January 11 and run through March 5, 2013.

This two-month long showcase will honor three regional master painters/educators whose teaching careers over the past 40 years include the mentoring of hundreds of area students. The artists showcased will be Robert Willis, Jeanne Shanahan, and Mary Tomaskevitch, all of whom are over age 80.

Robert Willis

Willis is an artist in residence at Dorland Mountain Arts Colony and a watercolor media instructor. He has reflected on his youth and discovering his love of art.

“At 13 or 14, even if it had occurred to me, it’s not likely that I could or would have stated it. I can’t recall ever having been conscious of its taking hold, but it did. It was an urge to put down on paper those things that I saw, the colors, and the moods of the sky and the lay of the land.”

“With a dime-store paint box, brushes, paper, and a can of Campbell’s beans for lunch stowed in my rucksack, I roamed the woodlands and the granite-ruptured meadows of my far northern New York State homeland. My father knew of one painter living in the city. He took me to Utica to see him.

Chauncey Adams lived in the basement of the church where he worked as custodian. Sitting on the edge of his cot, he leafed through a stack of oils he had painted of the Mohawk Valley landscape. I saw magic and I was hooked.”

“My watercolor box has never been far from my reach. Some of my paintings have received awards. Quite a few hang in private collections in the U.S.A. and in Europe. In 2012, I received an award and the status of “signature member” of Watercolor West, an international organization of watercolor artists.”

“The watercolor medium is elusive and capricious, and it taunts us with the promise of glorious possibilities. My infatuation with it goes on and on.”

Jeanne Shanahan

Jeanne Shanahan, a 40-year resident of Fallbrook, is a plein air water media instructor. Of her beginning in art, she said:

“Ever since I can remember, I have painted. I received much encouragement from my father, who worked as a window display artist for department stores in downtown Los Angeles. The sales women in the lingerie department would save the sheets of white paper used to pack silk stockings, and he would bring stacks of them home for me to use as drawing paper.”

“I always knew exactly what I wanted to do. After high school, I attended Choinard Art Institute for one year. Then the war was over. I decided to leave school to get married but I continued to pain, draw and study. I did take classes at night, but raising eight children was more than a full time job.”

Mary Tomaskevitch

Mary Tomaskevitch, who has lived in Fallbrook since 1965, is an instructor in experimental mixed media. She shared her history with art:

“I just like doing art. As a child, if I wasn’t reading, I was drawing and as the first grandchild born in a huge extended family I never lacked for encouragement. One of my aunts thought I had some talent and gave me a book called “Anyone Can Draw” and that’s where it started.”

“In high school, I realized just how much I loved creating art. My first one-person show was in the library in Miami Herald High School. And it’s neat that I’m now in another show in a library. When my husband was stationed in Japan, I became a trapped Sunday painter and I took painting classes with a teacher who spoke no English but we communicated through subject matter and color.”

“When we moved to Fallbrook, I began teaching classes in my home. One of my students was affiliated with Palomar College and that connection led to my long career as an instructor with the college. I am honored to be a signature member of Water Color West and the San Diego Watercolor Society. I enjoy my students and I am so proud of them.”

An opening reception for the Master Mentors Art Show will take place Jan. 11 from 6 to 8 p.m. Visitors will have an opportunity to meet and talk with the artists. Fallbrook Library is located at 124 South Mission Road. Call

(760) 731-4650 for more information.  

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